Norse Wire Weaving – Trichinopoly

Last year in my research into the various silver wire artifacts from Gotland and trying to figure out how they were constructed I finally learnt norse wire weaving or Trichinopoly.  But I only did a few test pieces.  I’ve now, finally made an actual piece of jewelry.

Our Kingdom A&S Faire is coming up in a few weeks and we have a number of prizes that are sponsored, either by individuals or some of the Guilds and or Orders of Ealdormere.  I decided to sponsor a prize for the best entry of Experimental Archeology, bonus points awarded if the entrant proved their own theory to be wrong.

I think that being wrong is a critical step in learning how many of the crafts that were done in the Medieval Era were actually done.  And the skill and devotion to the craft that went into it.  Making mistakes and getting things wrong provide such a valuable learning experience that it should not be discounted as a “failed attempt” because through that failure the individual has learnt what NOT to do.  When they go on to their next attempt they now have more knowledge of the process than they did before.  Building on those mistakes and failures are what eventually lead to getting it right.

And on that note, I need to work on better finishing for the closures of jewelry.



And now for something completely different 

As is clear from reading most of my entries of my A&S research and practices, I focus mostly on things Norse. I have done a few latter period projects for myself but it’s been years.

I took part in the recent round of the Nobelese Largesse exchange for artisans in the SCA. It a secret santa type of thing where based on a set of survey answers you make a gift for another artisan of the Society. This recent round had a theme of heraldry, either personal of from the Kingdom/ group.

The Artisan I was crafting for preferred her heraldry to be used and she has a later period persona. Working class Tudor/Elizabethan.  To add to her wardrobe I decided to do an embroidered coif. A small disclaimer, I haven’t done any projects of medieval embroidery. I picked the brains of some friends who excel at embroidery for tips on how to set things up and materials to use.

I bought a pattern for the embroidery design which is based on this coif.

With the plan of turning the birds into winged monkeys from the recipients heraldry. On white linen I did these with a silvery silk thread in split stitch. All other embroidery was done in a blue silk using stem stitch.  For the transfer of the design I used this great stuff call H2O Gone. It cleanly rinses away when all the stitching is done.

I spent well over 100 hours stitching possibly close to 200, I’m not that fast.  Much to the irritation of my cat who was sick of me not paying enough attention to her.

From here, lots of pictures of the progress!


H2O Gone is gone! The lining has been attached and ironed.


Modelled by my unimpressed teenager.

Pleated Front Apron Dress

Years ago I came across references for pleating in the front of an apron dress and underdresses.  Recently I found another article that had wonderful detail on the textile fragment finds from Kestrup, Denmark.  Including more information on a reproduction.

I had acquired at Pennsic this past summer a length of a wool/linen fabric, brown with a faint beige check pattern that was also a fairly light weight.  Perfect for my own attempt at a pleated front apron dress.

The first task to undertake was to do the pleating.  I totally cheated by using the selvage edge of the fabric so that the top of the pleats would have less fabric and a tighter fold when finished.  I measured the width from where the side seam would be to the spot where I would wear a brooch.  I then did the guide stitches on the front until the width reached the space needed to sit between my brooches in the front.  As mentioned in Hilde Thunem’s work, the fragment from Kestrup that the longest pleat was 4.3cm from the top of the fabric, I followed this and my pleats are a length of 5 cm from the top of the fabric.  My pleats are 3mm wide and 4mm deep

And, as with so many of my projects.  Oracle insisted on closely supervising my progress.


I then finished off the dress, sewing all the long seams on the machine and the bottom hem by hand.  Hemming the dress had a bit of a challenge, the pleating adds a great deal of fabric to the front and the extra weight that goes with that so it pulled the front of the dress down as well.  When I attached the straps, they initially turned out to be to long once I wore it for a period of time, the weight of brooches and pleating were pulling down the front.  So I did a quick shortening but simply tying a knot in each of the back straps.  The front loops were not changed.



Turnip Pudding

This year I volunteered to once again cook feast for our key SCA event of the year in the Barony, Feast of the Hare.  It was a scaled down, 1 remove feast compared to some of the others I’ve done in the past which was kinda nice and a little less insane.

Our current Majesties are having Russian reign and the document matching their time period which I turned to in order to plan the feast was The Domostroi: Rules for Russian Households in the Time of Ivan the Terrible.

There are plenty of lists of the foods eaten at various times of the year and I tried to create the menu in accordance with the foods that would have been eaten in October/November.  The ones I chose were salmon, chicken, turnips, beets and kasha.  However, while lots of dishes and foods are listed the book is very lacking in actual recipes. It does have one for a Baked Turnip Pudding.

     Take a turnip in good condition and cut it into thin slices. Thread them in a line so that the slices do not touch one another as they dry, and hang them in the sun or in a warm oven where bread has just been baked.  They should not be watery; let them dry out well.  Mash the dried slices and push the puree through a sieve. Put the turnip in a clay pot.
     Take clear, light-coloured honey (make sure it has not fermented) and boil it, skimming off any foam.  Pour the boiled honey into the turnip puree – as much honey as you have puree. Add nutmeg, cloves, pepper and saffron in such measure that no one spice dominates, nor is it overspiced. Seal the clay pot with dough, and steam it in the oven for two days and two nights.  Then in will be good to eat. But if it is too liquid, add more turnip puree.  It should be the gesture of a lump of caviar.

There is also an online redaction of the recipe that skips the drying and presses the moisture out of the turnip.

I pulled elements from both sources to do my version of the Turnip Pudding.  I did slice the turnips thin, but laid them on cookie sheets and dried them in the oven after baking some cakes and then overnight with the light on, it’s impressive the gentle heat that is created by the light and then it isn’t required to have the oven actually on for a long duration of time.  They weren’t crispy dry, but rubbery like dried apples.

I then put the turnips through my woefully inadequate food processor.  This was the step that I wish I could have done better, my turnip was less of a puree and more like very  finely minced turnip.

I mixed that turnip with an equal amount of honey and spiced it with cloves, nutmeg, pepper and saffron and put it in a glass baking dish.  I made a dough of flour and water that I used to seal the top.  The glass dish was handy in that I was able to see how the baking process was progressing without taking off the pastry lid.  I baked it at 300F for a total of 4 hours.

The dish was only served to the head table although I likely could have also set a small dish to each of the other tables with a spoonful or two for tasting.  It certainly isn’t the sort of dish that one would eat a large serving of.  It was certainly different.

What I did on my summer vacation

I’ve been off-line for a good portion of the summer while away at Pennsic and then continuing with some holidays to see family.  Also preparation for all the wonderful things happening to friends of mine.  My belt sister, Alais was Laureled on the 27th of August, myself and my daughters are joyfully looking forward to the Knighting of our friend AElfwyn next weekend and the Coronation of another belt sister on on the 17th.

So, busy.

But Pennsic and the classes I took (and taught) are what I would like to go over in my post today.

I was very happy to see that there were a variety of naalbinding classes being taught this year at Pennsic.  Left handed naalbinding was taught and this was fantastic, I had more people come to my classes who were left handed than ever before.

I taught an intermediate naalbinding class twice and the multi-coloured/multi strand class 3 times.  All were fairly well attended and for the most part it seems that the students left the class with a better understanding of new techniques.

I took a number of classes, not as many as I had hoped as the heat of Pennsic this year was on the extreme end.

Viking textile and trim, naalbinding spots and rings, Food and Nutrition Ango Saxon England, Birka Posaments, and the Haithabu purse.  All of the classes were fantastic!
I was lucky enough to get to the purse class early enough to get a kit and by the end of the day had a new finished purse.  I hope to do a little more research on this myself to see if there were ever any purse handles found that were made of bone.  I’m doubtful there is but it would be neat.
The Posaments class was wonderful, I attended the lecture but not the hands on class.  The spaces were fairly limited and with the kit and instructions provided I was fairly certain I could get started on it on my own.  I was very interested in this class as it does overlap some with the silver wire work trim that I have been researching.  Now that I’m home I have indeed managed to pick up some of the designs and am really loving the delicate work that it produces.  I will for certain be acquiring more wire to continue with making posaments.
For those interested in more about posaments, here is the website of the lady who taught the class (and also sells the kits and supplies).

A pudding of sour cherries



82. Ein wissel mus

Der denne wölle machen ein kirsenmus. der breche die stile abe. und siede sie mit ein wenic wins. und slahe sie denne durch ein tuch mit einer semel brösemen. wol derwelet in eime hafen. und tu smaltzes genue dran. und rüerez denne mit eyer totern. und strauwe würtze doruf. so manz anrihten wil.


82. A pudding of sour cherries

If you want to make a pudding of sour cherries, remove the stems, and boil the cherries with a little wine.  Then press them through a cloth with white bread crumbs, boiled well in a pot. Add enough lard, and then stir egg yolks in it. For serving sprinkle with seasoning.

Adamson, Melitta Weiss, Daz buch von guter spise: The Book of Good Food, A Study, Edition and English Translation of the Oldest German Cookbook. Medium Aevum Quotidianum Sonderbrand IX, 2000.



600gms of sour cherries (fresh with stems removed or frozen when out of season)
1.5 cups of red wine
1 cup of bread crumbs
5 egg yolks
2 tbsp of butter or lard

Seasoning – combine these

1tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
dash of cloves
dash of galingale

In a pot, add the cherries & wine. Simmer until the cherries are soft.  Stir in bread crumbs then press the mixture through a cloth, throw away skins.  Return to the pot, add 5 egg yolks & bring to a simmer, stirring until it thickens.  Serve warm or cold & sprinkled with seasoning.


Adamson, Melitta Weiss, Daz buch von guter spise: The Book of Good Food, A Study, Edition and English Translation of the Oldest German Cookbook. Medium Aevum Quotidianum Sonderbrand IX, 2000.